First career match-up klaxon… the number seven seed, Carla Suárez Navarro will play the number 11 seed, Johanna Konta for the first time on the WTA tour when the pair meet in the third round of the Wuhan Open on Wednesday.
Suárez Navarro had a bye in the first round and won her second round match against Yanina Wickmayer, 6-4 6-3. It was a match of two halves – the first set was decent and the second was dire! Wickmayer was playing well in the first set, being aggressive and moving forward. The Belgian player had a break point at 4-3* Adv-40* but Suárez Navarro calmly saved it with an unreturnable serve down the tee. Suárez Navarro would go onto win the last ten points of the set; her forehand was impressive in Wickmayer’s service game at 4-4 and she sealed the set with a beautiful backhand down-the-line.
Wickmayer lost her way in the second set; she double faulted midway through the first game at 1-1 and seemed to hurt her leg when she landed. I couldn’t quite work out what it was, but she was certainly unsettled and began to commit some wild errors. Suárez Navarro, steady and serving effectively, was calm under pressure as she extinguished any openings that Wickmayer carved out on her serve. Suárez Navarro won the match on a Wickmayer double fault.
Konta is becoming one of the most reliable players on tour and is into the third round with two comfortable straight set victories. She failed to serve out both sets against Annika Beck in the first round but was otherwise dominant in a 6-1 6-2 victory. In the second round against Zhang Shuai, Konta was a touch more precise and could rely on a stronger serve, edging Zhang in an entertaining clash, 6-3 6-3. Konta failed to serve out the first set but had no such problems with the match with a confident close.
Interesting stat: Suárez Navarro held all nine of her service games against Wickmayer, saving just the one break point. While Konta has been broken a fair few times in her first two matches, she has been lethal on return. She broke Beck’s serve in all eight of her service games in the first round and followed that up with a further five breaks of Zhang’s serve.
Final thoughts: This should be a fascinating match-up of styles with Konta’s aggression going up against Suárez Navarro’s counter-punching game. The Spaniard showed some positive intent though in her match against Wickmayer, hitting the backhand very cleanly and taking it up the line in a few testing moments. Konta’s serve is the bigger weapon although Suárez Navarro’s is underrated considering her stature.
Konta will need to be bold but equally, play with patience to prevail as Suárez Navarro is enjoying some decent form of late. In a sea of sensational third round clashes on Wednesday in Wuhan, this could be one of the most competitive matches of the day.